Musician encourages neighborhood in Los Angeles with quarantine concerts

Musician Encourages Neighborhood In Los Angeles With Quarantine Concerts

For 15 years Adam Chester has played the parts of Elton John in rehearsals with the rock band. But after John ran out of concerts due to the pandemic, Chester looked for another stage.

And he found it: Now he offers weekly concerts fulfilling the social distancing from his neighborhood in Los Angeles.


In this way Chester has serenaded dozens of his neighbors with masks from inside a rectangle painted with the words “social distancing” and a heart drawn next to it. Together they dance to songs like John’s “Crocodile Rock” and sing others like the Beatles’ “Hey Jude”.

They call it “Cuarenchella” (“Quaranchella”) a combination of quarantine and Coachella, and it has become a source of community and togetherness at a time when many need both.

“It has been an incredible experience,” said Chester’s wife Maria, who serves as the musician’s production team as well as their two teenage children. “It happened organically because he needed to play and has been evolving.”

Chester jokes about his role as a substitute for John “He is Sir Elton and I am ‘South’ Elton, with a ‘u’ for being the substitute for Elton John”, but his career has not completely passed in the shadow of the super star.

He had a major role in the 2018 Grammy tribute for Elton John at Madison Square Garden in New York. And he’s also had his own shows at clubs and parties, but quarantine put a stop to that.

“I was getting desperate inside my house here like many musicians do,” Chester said. “I thought, ‘Why don’t we do this outside once a week?'”

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, far right, and husband Charles Isaacs, center, among the audience for Adam Chester’s weekly concert in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles.

The most recent concert, held on the eve of Mother’s Day, had a theme dedicated to them. Chester’s own mother, who raised him alone after his father died when he was 11, sat behind him in his yard.

Chester played his keyboard with a small amp next to it and began the concert with his friend, saxophonist Katja Rieckermann, standing at a safe distance for a poignant performance of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” on the day the rock legend passed away. .

He also played “That’s the Way of the World” recalling how his mother took him to an Earth, Wind & Fire concert as a child: “We had to leave in 10 minutes because she said it was too loud.”

He performed “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” by Elton John and “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne, a light song but one that reminded us that street concerts are not only happy. His co-author Adam Schlesinger passed away last month from COVID-19.

Musician Adam Chester, left, is joined by saxophonist Katja Rieckermann during their weekly concert in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles.

Chester said “no one could hold back tears” one recent night when he played Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” the favorite song of a neighbor’s dying father.

The neighbors’ response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“All week longing for that Saturday concert,” said neighbor Lisa Silver, who along with others cooperated to buy a tripod to hold Chester’s phone so the concerts can be broadcast on Facebook.

Elated after the concert, Chester said that these Saturday performances could go beyond quarantine.

“I can’t imagine going back to something normal after this,” he said.